Trans infrastructures
: experiences of liveability in Brighton & Hove and implications for urban planning

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Planning as a discipline of urban governance shapes the present form and function of cities, bringing inhabitants closer to certain futures and placing others out of reach. Previous planning research has argued for a greater consideration of transgender and LGBTQI people and communities for the creation of a more equitable future. This thesis contributes towards an embryonic transfeminist planning praxis that goes beyond cisgender binaries, to consider how to make a more sustainable world for transgender inhabitants. The aim of this thesis is to understand how local planning policy and practice in England currently articulates transgender and to contribute to an approach that can make the lives of trans inhabitants more liveable. The case study site is the city of Brighton & Hove which over the last decade has been at the forefront of trans-inclusive municipal equalities initiatives in England. A two-pronged methodology was utilised. Firstly, a poststructural analysis of policy documents and interviews with planning and equalities practitioners were carried out. The analysis led to the development of the idea of choreography to conceptualise the constrained movement available due to the current channelling of trans and LGBT within the paradigm of equalities. Three stories of choreographing in Brighton & Hove contribute to an understanding of the disciplinary biases that produce absence in policy, conceive trans individuals as generic ‘sensitive’ subjects, and silo identified needs. The second set of methods turned away from municipal governance to instead centre the lived experiences of transgender individuals. Creative cartographic methods were used to explore the embodied knowledges and spatial experiences of trans inhabitants. A multi-modal assemblage analysis produced a triptych framework to conceptualise city-space as affording varied experiences of precariousness, affirmation, and ordinariness. Fluctuating flows of care and neglect, proxemics to others, sensory atmospheres, and the biography of the participants were assembled in relation to the materiality of the built environment. In considering the implications of these experiences for planning, an infrastructural approach is developed in relation to the domains of mobility, housing, and green spaces. Trans infrastructures are conceptualised as the collective dependencies and spatialised flows of care that enable and constrain trans lives. Trans infrastructures is conceived as a bridging concept between lived experiences, embodied knowledges, and the discipline of planning. An expansive infrastructural lens provides a conceptual guide for planners and associated practitioners, but crucially and more radically a conceptual platform from which trans people can better throw bricks.
Date of AwardJan 2024
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Brighton
SupervisorJason Lim (Supervisor), Paul Gilchrist (Supervisor) & Anna Zoli (Supervisor)

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